Jacksonville Harbor deepening project will deepen the federal shipping channel to 47ft. Credit: Jacksonville Port Authority.
Construction of the deepening project began in February 2018. Credit: Jacksonville Port Authority.
The deepening project will enable the port to accommodate larger vessels. Credit: Jacksonville Port Authority.

Jacksonville Harbor’s federal channel along the St Johns River is being deepened to enable the passage of larger vessels.

The project is being implemented by the Jacksonville Port Authority (JAXPORT).

The Port of Jacksonville is an international trade seaport situated in north-east Florida, US. It provides direct cargo services across Asia, Europe, Africa, Middle East, and South American markets.

JAXPORT’s board of directors approved the commencement of the harbour deepening project in June 2017. Construction of the project was started in February 2018 and is expected to be completed in 2023.

The port witnessed more than 1.27 million container movements and handled 10.4 million tonnes of cargo in 2018.

Jacksonville Harbor deepening project details

Jacksonville Harbor deepening project mainly involves the deepening of Jacksonville shipping channel to 47ft to enable it to accommodate larger ships.

Deepening of the harbour will begin from the entrance channel to approximately river mile 13. The project will also involve the construction of two turning basins at Blount Island and Brills Cut.

Dredged material from the deepening project will be primarily deposited within the ocean disposal site.

The project also includes the deepening of Dames Point Marine Terminal and channel widening at the Mile Point / Training Wall Reach and the St Johns Bluff / White Shells Reach.

Other expansions at Port of Jacksonville

JAXPORT signed a long-term agreement with SSA Marine for the development of a $238.7m international container terminal in March 2019.

“The port is also undergoing berth rehabilitation and upgrades, which will enable the new terminal to accommodate two post-Panamax vessels simultaneously.”

The container terminal will be built on SSA Marine’s current leasehold land at JAXPORT’s Blount Island Marine Terminal. It will provide increased deepwater berthing space to accommodate larger container ships.

Occupying 80 acres, the port will be able to be extended by up to 120 acres upon the availability of space. The 25-year agreement will include two five-year renewal options and also involve Blount Island terminal improvements. SSA Marine currently has a leasehold of 50 acres at Blount Island.

The new terminal is expected to create 3,500 jobs during the first ten years of the contract.

The port is also undergoing berth rehabilitation and upgrades, which will enable the new terminal to accommodate two post-Panamax vessels simultaneously.

Funding for Jacksonville Harbor deepening

The estimated cost of the project is $704.5m, which will include $337.8m from the federal government, and the local sponsor will provide the remaining $366.7m.

The deepening project received a federal grant of $17.5m in May 2017, which will support the initial phases of construction. It also secured $21.5m in federal funding and $484m in state funding in 2017.

It will also use a sum of $28m, which will be paid by SSA Marine for utilising JAXPORT’s three 100-gauge cranes.

Contractors involved in Jacksonville Harbor deepening project

The US Army Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for maintaining and deepening US port channels, awarded the first $22.8m contract (Contract A) to The Dutra Group in September 2017. The contract mainly involves the dredging of three million cubic yards of material from the entrance channel (Bar Cut-3) to the west of the Mayport Ferry (Cut-7).

Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company received a $113.16m contract (Contract B) from the US Army Corps of Engineers in September 2018. The contract also includes additional option work items worth $97m, which will be exercised by mid-2019.

Contract B will involve deepening of the St Johns River, widening in certain areas for two-way traffic and turning, and channel maintenance.

A $6.5m contract was awarded to Cashman Dredging & Marine Contracting for maintenance dredging at different locations in Cut-7 through Cut-45, Cut-55, Cut-G, and the Lower Terminal Channel.